The part of the Washington Post story that's not a surprise:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has made a crackdown on gift-giving to state officials a centerpiece of her ethics reform agenda, has accepted gifts valued at $25,367 from industry executives, municipalities and a cultural center whose board includes officials from some of the largest mining interests in the state, a review of state records shows.
Politician Full of Shit. Film at 11. A
dog pit bull bites man story, if ever there was one.
This bit, on the other hand, has me interested:
Palin has also reported as gifts two fact-finding trips that mining companies sponsored for her husband, Todd. The trips were among several sponsored by mining companies for state officials.
Todd Palin accepted an $805 charter flight from Barrick Gold and a $200 flight from Red Dog Mines. Both companies are clients of Chamberlain, a top lobbyist with Legislative Consultants, which led the state in lobbying income last year.
Apparently, Todd just loves facts. He's like a collector.
Oh, are there facts that a Vice President should have found for her? I should go find some. What? Facts in Hawaii? For five nights? Really? I'm so there!
"Seriously," you may say, "he's not a state employee. What's he getting facts about? For what reason?"
What an elitist view of facts you have! Facts, my friends, are for everyone! Especially rugged individualists like Todd, over there.
That crisp $100 bill in your hand, for example? It's a fact! I'd like to find that fact right about now, myself. Are there any more facts in your wallet? In fact, why don't you just leave a sack full of facts for me to find right here on top of my desk?
If that's a problem for you, another fact I've found is that I accept credit cards.
Nah, it's not much. The high dollar stuff went to Sarah. But not to worry. A mere "courtesy," says her administration.
Really, it's the Vice Presidency that could be more fun than a barrel of monkeys for Todd, what with his love of facts, and so many honest Americans in Armani suits down in DC willing to help him find them. Is there a better place to be for a guy who loves stalking his enemies and pulling at the official levers of power to bury them?
Heck, in Washington, you don't find facts so much as facts find you!
Like Jon Chait, I don't think there's any method to McCain's madness. Rather, the evidence points to him being an erratic candidate who overreacts when he senses his political fortunes sinking. I keep thinking of the Joke: "Do I really look like a guy[...]
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MSNBC yanks a TV ad from Dem-leaning independent groups today after Bill O'Reilly called out NBC corporate execs on his show last night.[...]
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The Democrats have made good progress in getting the Bush administration to move from the $700 billion blank check proposal that we saw last weekend. The initial draft agreement provides for some real oversight, restrictions on executive compensation, and an equity stake for the government in exchange for taxpayer dollars. It is also includes language committing the government to seek workouts on mortgages that will allow people to stay in their homes.
This is all great progress, however there is still much that is missing.
The limits on executive compensation are vague. It is not clear whose pay will be restricted and by how much. It is reasonable to ask that these terms be spelled out. When Henry Paulson became chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs, his contract didn't promise him "adequate compensation," it provided for a specific package of millions or tens of millions of dollars. This deal should include the same sort of specific provision on pay restrictions that business people negotiate when they make a deal.
The same applies to the rules on acquiring equity. Senator Dodd had a very reasonable formula in the proposal that he put forward on Monday. His plan called for the government to get $1.25 in equity for every dollar that we lose on assets purchased from financial institutions. This would be applied to the value of the equity at the time the assets were purchased so that if the stock price subsequently rose, the taxpayers would get the benefit of this increase.
We can quibble over the number, but not the principle. Warren Buffet didn't give $5 billion to Goldman Sachs for an unspecified amount of equity. He had a contract that gave him a specific stake in the company. That is the way people do business. Why wouldn't we expect that the government would have the same sorts of contracts when it provides capital to banks?
The bankruptcy provision that the Bush administration insists is a deal breaker should in fact be rather innocuous. It just changes one provision of the bankruptcy code back to what its pre-1991 wording. Under the proposed change, bankruptcy judges would be allowed to reset the terms of a mortgage contract just as they can reset the terms of a car loan, business loan, or any other debt.
It is bizarre that President Bush is telling Congress that he would rather allow the financial system to collapse than have the banks lose a few dollars due to this change. Remember, the vast majority of foreclosures do not involve bankruptcy (the share would increase with a change in the law). And even in the cases involving bankruptcy, judges are not going to just give away the house. We are talking about limited reductions in mortgage payments which in many cases may still give the banks more money than they would get from carrying through a foreclosure. And, over this President Bush is willing to wreck the financial system?
The bill also offers nothing by way of stimulus. This is important not only because the bill will not directly provide a boost to the economy, but the opponents of stimulus are sure to use the money spent bailing out the banks as an argument against another stimulus package.
In other words, putting stimulus in this bill is not just a question of treating the bill as a Christmas tree. If we spend $700 billion or even $350 billion to bail out the banks, it is much less likely that we will then be able to get the support for the stimulus needed to boost the economy out of recession.
This leaves the question of whether the Democrats can responsibly walk away from the bailout. This involves a tough call. The financial system was really shaken by the events of last week when Lehman Brothers went under and AIG was about to follow suit. However, Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson were able to duct tape things together with the cooperation of the other major central banks.
The financial markets remain extremely unsettled and more bad news is a virtual certainty, but Bernanke and Paulson have lots of duct tape at their disposal. The sort of financial breakdown that we all fear remains a possibility, but my bet is that they will be able to deal with whatever crises develop.
Of course it would be better to have a more settled financial market, but this should not come at any cost. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that this package will fix the problem. As many economists have noted, the more obvious way to address the current situation is to directly inject capital into the banking system, something this proposal does not do.
There is one other point worth considering in assessing the responsibility of a walk-away strategy. Suppose the Paulson plan goes through. It is virtually certain that the economy will weaken further and the number of foreclosures and people without jobs will continue to rise.
This is the fallout from a collapsing housing bubble. Families that have seen most of their home equity disappear will feel the need to cut back their consumption and increase their savings. We have a huge cohort of baby boomers at the edge of retirement, most of whom who have accumulated almost no wealth during their working lifetime. When these families respond to their loss of home equity by cutting back their consumption it will deepen the recession.
In this context it might prove very important to have the resources needed to provide a substantial stimulus. In principle, even a $700 billion bailout package would not be so large as to preclude a further stimulus next year. However, there is no doubt that this bailout will make further stimulus much more difficult to sell politically.
In this sense it is hard to view supporting a bad bailout package as the responsible course of action. While the bailout may lesson a presumably small risk of financial breakdown, it could have the effect of making the recession much longer and more painful than necessary. This would not be responsible.
The Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog references a NRO piece by wingnut Kathleen Parker where she suggests that Palin ought to drop out of the race and that she ought to do it for her country (read for the survival of the GOP).I could definitely see that happening between Saturday and the middle of next [...]
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KIRKUK -- A group of armed men assassinated two civilians in front of their home in central Kirkuk on Thursday afternoon.
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A new USA Today poll finds that 78 percent of Americans agree that Congress should pass a plan to rescue America?s financial markets, with 56 percent saying the plan should be different from the original one proposed by the Bush administration last week. Sixty three percent support limits on CEO compensation for corporations who participate in the bailout and 80 percent say provisions to help homeowners unable to afford their mortgages are “important.”
So many have already circulated this wacky but uncannily profound piece by Sarah Silverman that Kmer Rouge bloggers have probably already started showcasing it. I want to use it to make a sober, hopeful point in advance of tonight's debate and while Obama is slightly ahead in most polls. In my piece "Obama's Jews" (in the current Harper's), I report that Obama is leading among young people in general (18-29 years old) by some 25 percent. The various pollsters I've talked with put it simply to me: if young people come out in large numbers, Obama can't lose; if not, he may not win, for all the "cultural" reasons and divisions we have analyzed to death since 2000.
Silverman's gag, in other words, is not merely about Jews in Boca. It identifies the hinge of this election and a sweeping generational shift. Young people, Toto, are not in Kansas anymore. The polls also suggests why we should assume good news no matter what happens in November. For the Obama campaign has all the trappings of a movement: progressive domestically, multi-lateral internationally, and truthful, not truthy, in its organization. If he loses in 2008, he will win in 2012. The country's problems will, in any case, take a generation to get serious about.
Americans have been through a lot of hardship in the last decade. The really sad part is that most of the hardship could have been avoided if we’d made better choices in leadership. But we allowed the guy we wanted to have a beer with to take control over the country rather than giving it to a better candidate. Whether or not the 2000 election was stolen is a separate issue. The bottom line is but WE allowed Bush to take office and WE allowed him to stay. Now as they say, we reap what we have sown.
You’ll have to forgive my amusement at all this. You see, I feel as though I have been screaming at the maelstrom for the last six years or so trying to get people to care about what their government is doing. First the election, then 9/11, then the PATRIOT act, then the invasion of Iraq, then untold billions of dollars sucked out of our nation by companies like Haliburton and Blackwater, the FISA legislation, the unconstitutional powers that the Bush regime has claimed. The list goes on. We kept quiet as more and more abuse piled on. Like the puppy that has been kicked since birth and knows no other way we just sat there and took it.
Now however, we have of course we have the economic meltdown occurring because Wall Street got a little too greedy. I’ve heard many right wing commentators talk about how ‘giving mortgages to coloreds’ is what caused this mess. Racism aside, that’s a cop out. The average citizen doesn’t have a multi million dollar legal or accounting department to tell them when something they’re about to do is a bad idea. So if I come to you with no job, no savings, no prospects and a ton of already bad debt it’s up to you to look all this over and say “no, I can’t give you this loan”. If there was some sort of protestation about it, the documentation stating: “no job, no savings, no prospects and a ton of already bad debt” are absolute proof as to the reason for rejection. That’s part of what all those fees you pay mortgage brokers are for.
The fact is that Wall Street, like some 1970’s cartoon bank robber saw an opportunity and couldn’t see past the big green dollar signs in their eyes. Wall Street made bad decisions and Wall Street should have known better. In truth they probably did know better, but decided to take the money and run anyway. Which makes them doubly at fault and even more certain that they should’t be reaching into our pockets to fix their mistakes.
So now we have our supposed representation sitting up in Capitol hill getting ready to give almost a trillion dollars as a first increment to Wall Street. Make no mistake, it will start off at $700 billion, but since the original plan said that they could only have $700 billion at a time there’s nothing to stop them from selling bad mortgages at a loss and then gobbling up another hundred billion a pop. Funny thing is, that figure was just picked out of a hat:
MR. FRATTO: With respect to executive pay, again, I’m not going to get into specific, point-by-point details on what our views are on that, other than the Secretary of Treasury said it would make more difficult to make this plan work and effective if you provide disincentives for companies and firms out there who are holding mortgage-backed securities and other securities from participating in the program. You have to remember, these are not all weak or troubled firms that own mortgage-backed securities. A lot of them are very successful banks and investment houses that have done very well, have been responsible, are holding performing assets that have value. They were not necessarily irresponsible players, and so you have to be careful about how you deal with them.
This represents nothing less than a callous plundering of the US economy to benefit those one percent people who already have all the money. Nothing illustrates this more than our representatives don’t give a fig about us then the arguments taking place about whether or not the CEO’s of these failing companies should still keep their multi million dollar golden parachute packages on our dime. “A lot of them are very successful…have been responsible, are holding performing assets that have value”. If they have assets that have value, then they don’t need our help. If they don’t have performing assets then they should be made to at least partially clean up their own mess before digging into Joe Taxpayer’s pocket is even contemplated. It’s not MY damned fault that these idiots gave loans to people who couldn’t pay them and if I fail to pay my own electric bill or mortgage Uncle Sam isn’t going to give ME a handout.
But now, our countrymen have had enough. Things are, as they have always been. How do you get an American to care about what it’s government is doing? Sucker punch them in the wallet.
I first heard about the protests here:
Protesters Take Their Outrage to Wall Street | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet:
Enraged by the prospect of $700 billion of their taxes going to reimburse Wall Street speculators for their dubious investments, about 500 protesters paraded through Lower Manhattan’s financial district Thursday afternoon, their chants of “You broke it, you bought it” reverberating through the narrow office building canyons and off the flag-draped wall of the New York Stock Exchange.”I’m outraged,” said Linda Greco, a 40-ish Brooklyn woman. “People are losing their homes. There’s homeless people all over the city. The schools are falling apart. And they want to bail these pigs out? It’s about time the people of this country woke up and took this country back.”
Like many others, Greco learned about the protest from an e-mail tree that sprouted like kudzu on methamphetamine. “I must have gotten 10 to 20,” she said.
The demonstration originated with an e-mail sent out Monday afternoon by Arun Gupta, an editor at the leftist Indypendent. “They said providing health care for 9 million children, perhaps costing $6 billion a year, was too expensive, but there’s evidently no sum of money large enough that will sate the Wall Street pigs,” it read. “We need to act now while we can influence the debate. With Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, the money markets and now this omnibus bailout, well in excess of $1 trillion will be distributed from the poor, workers and middle class to the scum floating on top? Let the bondholders pay, let the banks pay, let those who brought the ‘toxic’ mortgage-backed securities pay!”
“It tapped into an enormous reservoir of anger,” Gupta told the crowd that gathered at the bull statue on Bowling Green. The e-mail inspired similar protests in almost 200 cities and towns, from Greensboro, N.C., to Henderson, Nev. Though phone calls and e-mails to Congress have been running nearly 1,000 to 1 against the bailout, he added, “it’s clear that the fix is in.”
Here’s there best part! The Wall Street billionaire types LAUGHED AT THEM:
Many Wall Street types greeted the protesters with contempt. “Just look at these people,” sneered one broker as the march neared the Stock Exchange. Another group held a “Get a Job” sign in an office window, and one man dropped a few dollar bills out of his. They fluttered down short of the marchers, landing in a construction site.
This is all a big joke apparently. I imagine it would be to someone with twenty million dollars in their bank account when the rest of us are barely able to scrape by each month. “Get back to your hovel proles! Shut up and give us your money!”
You want to talk about class warfare? We don’t have paid lobbyists up in Congress trying to get bills passed to favor us. We don’t have millions of dollars socked away in secret Swisse and Cayman accounts. We’re just the regular working joes who get crapped on in every corrupt regime. We had jobs, at least until greedy morons decided to ship them over seas so you could give themsevles CEO’s another diamond studded gold plated Caribbean island without figuring out if they’d actually earned it or not. This is the 21st century of ‘Let them eat cake!”. The fact that more people aren’t out on the street protesting is just an example of how effective their brainwashing has become.
Aside from lawmaker protest over the government’s $700 billion bailout plan, there were a number of protests across the country over the bailout. Labor unions organized a protest on Wall Street yesterday. AFL-CIO president John Sweeney said, “The Bush administration wants us to pay the freight for a Wall Street bailout that does not even begin to address the roots of our crisis. We want our tax dollars used to provide a hand up for the millions of working people who live on Main Street and not a handout to a privileged band of overpaid executives.”United Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten said, “We know that he economic situations has to be solved. But we want a a responsible rescue, not an opportunistic bailout.” And Reverend Jesse Jackson said afterward, “The homeowners need long-term, low interest rates and the restructuring of loans, not the repossession of homes.”
“People all over the country are up in arms about this,” said David Elliot, a spokesman for grassroots advocacy group UsAction. “Our members are livid, and they’re hitting the streets.”TrueMajority.com, an online forum for activists, said its members had organized 251 events in more than 41 states to protest the bailout.
Near the New York Stock Exchange this afternoon, more than 1,000 union members and other activists rallied against giving Wall Street a blank check in a financial bailout that leaves Main Street taxpayers deserted.Speaking at the rally, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said:
Our nation is facing a real crisis and we should move swiftly, but we cannot afford to compound our problems with bailout legislation that is hasty at the expense of thoughtfulness and common sense.
We want our tax dollars to provide a hand up for the millions of working people who live on Main Street and not a handout to a privileged band of overpaid executives on Wall Street.
Even now, your representatives, are sitting in back rooms somewhere debating your future. Debating your children’s future and their children’s future. We’ve already lost almost a trillion dollars to the Iraq war. We’re about to lose another trillion dollars to keep the Rockefellers in caviar and Faberge. Yet we can’t provide health care for our children, our bridges are falling down, and we are still vulnerable to hurricanes and floods and terrorist attacks but what gets our representatives up in arms to the point where McCain has to ’suspend’ his campaign despite the fact that he hasn’t voted on anything since April isn’t any of these things. What gets them motivated is that Edward S. Lampert ( who made $1.02 billion in 2004) has to buy one less Lamborghini this year. Oh my, the scandal!
My fellow Americans, if you did not stand up against torture or kidnapping or war or the gutting of the Constitution then ask yourself when will you stand up? What line is too much for them to cross? Do the jackbooted thugs of Wall Street employ need to actually be standing on your throat before you bother to defend yourself? This is no different than if some guy in a ski mask pulled you into an alley, put a knife to your throat and demanded your wallet. At least in that case you can go to the police. These guys will make sure that this robbery is all perfectly legal because they have the capitol and enough of Congress in their pockets.
If you did not stand up before then now is the time, people. Now is the time to take the advice of the late Molly Ivins:
“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war…We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’”
Call your representatives and tear them a new one. Get out there on bridges and highways and protest. Contact your local radio station. Drop by your Congressman’s office and give their staff an earfull. Call up CSPAN. Write your newspaper editor. Blog post this everywhere you can think of. If you do not choose to stand then you choose to kneel. Our founding fathers and mothers would have not tolerated this and neither should you.
Or, more accurately, before he even announced he was definitely going to attend. Click the image for a full screenshot of the Wall Street Journal source page.Although the fate of tonight’s presidential debate in Mississippi remains very much up in the air, John McCain has apparently already won it — if you believe an [...]
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